Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
PolePosition
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by PolePosition » Wed May 10, 2017 10:57 am

This is a pretty thorough post and I'm only going to add a few things:

900Mhz Motorola radios - 900Mhz is the ghetto of the unlicensed radio spectrum but these radios are designed with that in mind and will hop channels automatically until they find a clear channel. They're only good line of sight up to about a mile but that's pretty useful for most people. These radios are built really solid and come up used on Ebay a lot for about half the new price.

You can also buy old Push-To-Talk Nextel cell phones that work in this same range and have similar performance.

49Mhz unlicensed radios - I don't think there's anyone making anymore these but there's been quite a few made over the years. These work in the 49.8xx Mhz band and have pretty good range. This used to be a really busy spectrum but there's not much there now expect RC cars. Even cheap baby monitors have moved on to other spectrum.

Also, I think you're underselling CB radio. Sure, handheld to handheld talk will be impossible but if you have a good base station set up, it will be relatively easy to talk handheld to base station. I haven't been to BM since 2009, but CB was used a lot then.

I think that VHS Marine Band isn't totally out of the question either. Obviously you need to stay of the US Cost Guard, Government, and commercial channels, but if you stayed on 68, 69, 71, 72 and 78 you're unlikely to run into any more problems than you would talking on DOT business bands. Obviously, you would only want to do this during BM where you're hundreds of miles from civilization and not any other time.

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Captain Goddammit
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed May 10, 2017 11:03 am

I bought four of the Baofengs, with the better antennas, handheld mics, the whole shebang.
Never fucking used them. The times I wanted to message someone I used regular cell text.
In fact, if anyone local to Seattle wants a great deal on a whole setup, four radios, chargers, extra mics and antennas, essential brand new, I've got a big plastic tub full sitting in my garage.
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BBadger
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by BBadger » Wed May 10, 2017 3:18 pm

Yeah, the cell coverage out there is remarkably good. Even my shitty T-mobile carrier worked with texts/voice, even if there wasn't data. Sometimes I had more bars on the playa than where I live the rest of the year.

On the other hand, I recall using handheld radios to communicate with other people at the other end of our mutant vehicle and the transmission was shitty. A rolled up newspaper megaphone would've probably been better.
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TT120
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by TT120 » Wed May 10, 2017 4:26 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:I bought four of the Baofengs, with the better antennas, handheld mics, the whole shebang.
Never fucking used them. The times I wanted to message someone I used regular cell text.
In fact, if anyone local to Seattle wants a great deal on a whole setup, four radios, chargers, extra mics and antennas, essential brand new, I've got a big plastic tub full sitting in my garage.
I'm interested captain. Bring em to the burn, I'll bring cash.
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DeanisGatsby
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by DeanisGatsby » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:42 am

Thank you for this great post. Got a MURS radio for our camp.
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Skuzzy61
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Skuzzy61 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:13 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:I bought four of the Baofengs, with the better antennas, handheld mics, the whole shebang.
Never fucking used them. The times I wanted to message someone I used regular cell text.
In fact, if anyone local to Seattle wants a great deal on a whole setup, four radios, chargers, extra mics and antennas, essential brand new, I've got a big plastic tub full sitting in my garage.
We did the same and never used them either. The ambient noise level was so high we could not hear what was being said so we put them away. I can use them on the Cobra runs though.
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swerve_tha_unicorn
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by swerve_tha_unicorn » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:14 pm

Just_Joe wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:For the record, the 888s has no native keypad or display. It is a "grab and go" radio. All programming is done via PC over a serial cable. Other Baofengs have a keypad and can be pgmd manually. The 888 lacks this capability entirely.
Shite!
Frenchy, if you want to mail them to me, I'd be happy to program and have them for you on playa. I'm assuming they program with CHIRP and the same cable for the other beofengs that I have.
I tried getting specs on the 888 them earlier but couldn't pull up the web page...
Heyooo, I just got some BF-888s and have gotten all familiar with drivers and how to use CHIRP, I'm wondering if you can send me the .CSV for the programming you did on these....

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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Plugh » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:20 pm

[quote="swerve_tha_unicorn"]

Heyooo, I just got some BF-888s and have gotten all familiar with drivers and how to use CHIRP, I'm wondering if you can send me the .CSV for the programming you did on these....[/quote]

TLDR; I couldn't tell you what frequencies you can program in, and even if I gave you my settings, you could bring a shitstorm down on your head.

Since you have Chirp, you need to copy the configuration from your BF-888. Then you need to change the frequencies to the ones you're using. Depending on your licensing, you will probably be limited to FRS and GMRS. Your radios will not be type-accepted for those frequencies, so it's not likely anyone will complain about your over-powered radios, but realize that they will interfere with others' use of these overloaded frequencies.

The BF-888 can access a big chunk of the radio spectrum, even the frequencies used by law enforcement. If you touch their spectrum, they will have a lot of federal weight they can drop on your ass. Other frequencies that you can access are those used by the Org, medical response, etc. If you interfere with their operations, you could risk someone's life. You can do some research on fcc.gov to find out who's licensed to use which frequencies on the playa. I would be remiss in my own license (ham/GMRS) to recommend any licensed frequencies. Now that you have some background, I'll leave it to you to research the best frequencies for your operation.

Tbolt
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Tbolt » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:43 am

Thank you for your comprehensive posting on the topic. One question: Would it make sense to get GMRS radios and allocate on channel to the Black Rock repeater ( 440.175)?

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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Plugh » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:38 am

[quote="Tbolt"]Thank you for your comprehensive posting on the topic. One question: Would it make sense to get GMRS radios and allocate on channel to the Black Rock repeater ( 440.175)?[/quote]
A GMRS radio won’t be able to access the BRD repeater, but the 888 can.
Since the last post, the FCC has opened up the GMRS frequencies to FRS, meaning anyone can use those 22 channel radios without a license (not that many people paid attention to that before).

Thanac
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Re: Thinking about Radios for your camp? Read Me First!!!

Post by Thanac » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:27 am

A radio, or transceiver, is only good if you have someone on the other end listening. Relying on any radio, CB or VHF/UHF/HF for emergency assistance will not guarantee any results, especially given the very limited range of a handheld radio, and the specific frequencies that aircraft and other commercial operations use. Small portable VHF type radios generally require you to pre-program them to specific freqs. As well they require an operator's licence before you can legally use them.

The other issue with a handheld radio is that even if you were able to contact an aircraft in flight, you then need to tell them where you are. A GPS would likely be the most accurate.

If you want a device to obtain emergency assistance ,I would recommend a personal locator beacon (PLB) or a Sat phone. Both can be rented, although phones are more expensive.

In addition to electronic devices, flares and other signalling devices like laser pointers, and mirrors are usefull.

The HAM radio suggestion https://secretstorages.com/best-handheld-ham-radios/ is just not practicable, unless you are a licenced HAM operator, and again, is only good if the set has the range to reach another HAM station, that is listening on that frequency, when you need help. There are a lot of useful videos on this topic on Youtube. I'll leave one here for general information, I hope this helps someone.


Hope this helps.

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